Thursday, September 11, 2014

New owner reluctant to part with Bhupenda’s house

 KOLKATA, Sept 9 – The new owner of Assam’s cultural icon Dr Bhupen Hazarika’s house at ‘77 Golf Course Road, Tollygunge’ here is reluctant to part with the house for a greater cause of preserving the maestro’s ‘heritage house’, where he composed most of his immortal songs in the sixties and seventies of the last century.
In a telephonic conversation with this correspondent on Dr Hazarika’s 88th birth anniversary on Monday, SK Dange, a businessman based in the Dalhousie locality of the city here, who has business interests related to tea and fertilisers in the Barak Valley and who admitted to buying Dr Hazarika’s house seven years back, said that he was not interested in parting with the house as his own sentiments were involved with the house.

“Why should I give away my house just because your (Assamese people’s) sentiments are associated with it. This is the first property I have bought in Kolkata, so I am sentimentally attached to this property. Why don’t you take over the Mumbai house of Dr Hazarika from Kalpana Lajmi. First you take that house in Mumbai, then come for this!” he said agitatedly.
This correspondent then pointed out to Dange that the Kolkata Golf Course Road residence of Dr Hazarika was like a ‘mandir’ to the people of Assam who respected Dr Hazarika as ‘God’. This residence was the hub of Dr Hazarika’s cultural activities. His immortal songs were composed here, he made films and gave music from here and he wrote his journalistic writings from this humble abode. Cultural stalwarts like Lata Mangeshkar, Hemango Biswas, Hemanta Mukherjee, Mrinal Sen, Ritwick Ghatok, Dev Anand, Gulzar have all visited this famous address in Kolkata.

“I understand your sentiment for your property Mr Dange. I am not speaking for my personal interest. You please come to Guwahati and see how the people of Assam respect and worship Dr Hazarika. People respect him in Assam just as the Bengalee people respect Guruji Rabindranath Tagore in Bengal. You shall then definitely change your views about the house. We want this house to be a place of heritage and pilgrimage for the Assamese people,” this correspondent said to Dange.
Dange at the end of the conversation appeared to have softened a bit. He said he would meet this correspondent during his visit to Guwahati. In fact, he said that he was discussing the house issue with a friend in Silchar. This correspondent repeatedly asked Dange to consider the issue in the light of the ‘greater cause’ involved with the house.

From this correspondent’s talk with Dange, it appeared that he is a reasonable person and if approached properly should respond positively. The Assam government should depute a team to study the pros and cons involved with the issue (as the house has now become private property) and how they should go ahead. Of course, the Assam government has to first decide whether it wants to preserve Dr Hazarika’s house in Kolkata or not. If the Government can preserve Rasaraj Bezbarua’s house in Sambalpur in Orissa after all these years, it can surely do the same for another great son of Assam, Dr Bhupen Hazarika.

When this correspondent visited the house with the members of the Kolkata Asomiya Sanskritik Sanstha on Sunday, it was in an abandoned state. Creepers were growing on the door. There was dirt and dust all around. The old letter box still had the name ‘Dr Bhupendra Kumar Hazarika’. Neighbours said that the house was lying in disuse. Only a part of the two-storeyed house belonged to Dr Hazarika. Himanshu Chattopadhyay, former editor of Bengali Prasad magazine, Mintoo Mukherjee, former personal assistant of Dr Hazarika, Atul Kumar Bharali, president, Kolkata Asomiya Sanskritik Sanstha and Gautam Prasad Barooah, whom we met here all strongly appealed for preservation of the house and hoped that Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi would take the initiative in preserving Dr Hazarika’s Golf Course Road house in Kolkata.
Source : The Assam Tribune , 10 Sep 2014